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#DBU Virginia Tech's Suma Cum Shutdown Defensive Backfield

Virginia Tech's Defensive Backfield is probably its deepest in years, it's also going to be tested this season. Just a quick review, and some changes to note. Well, lots of changes to note, actually. Let's call it Suma Cum Shutdown. It's going to play a key part in every game from now on, Purdue hasn't seen this stuff, yet.

Kendall Fuller doing work
Kendall Fuller doing work
Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

When I see the current roster for the defensive backfield, I really am impressed with the talent, as long as everyone stays healthy.  Then I see the experience, and I am further encouraged to think that our starters aren't new to doing this sort of thing.  This has to be one of the most impressive Defensive Back rosters in college football.  It's proof that fielding quality players are the result of having quality players.  This is not some silly overthought tautology or Yogi Berra style profundity; it's an absolute truth that a quality program that has produced successful players will attract more quality players.  It's really why the NFL has a draft system, or everyone would want to play for the last champion.

The challenge for this defensive backfield roster is not how it plays the various backfield positions, but how it's going to react to how it's being used.  As we have examined in the last piece, Coaches Foster and Gray are going to need to get this talent to step up and play positions and situations that they normally would not be in.  From the reports (no formal Depth Chart published by the Athletic Department has been released) first from a Roanoke Times Article from August 8th at the beginning of Fall practice, and now filtering out as projected depth charts, some position changes, and maybe even some naming conventions have changed.  Chris Coleman over at Techsideline.com has put out what is listed as an "unofficial" Depth Chart.

Frankly, the positions are so churned, the only thing that I recognize from the initial Roster and Extrapolated Defensive Depth Chart based on the Spring's, is the presence of the same Right and Left Cornerbacks, Fuller and Facyson.  We also see added two very traditional positions of Left and Right Outside Linebacker, and Nickel [back].  A Rover still appears, but the player listed as a Rover is Desmond Frye (who is listed as a Free Safety on the official roster.  (Normally this is a Strong Safety's position, but I guess you put in who you have.)

What we do see, is noted in the roster chart.  Rosters always change from game to game. Usually they do because of injury, and sometimes performance; but I get the impression that we might see a purpose configured defensive backfield that will change for tactical reasons.  We will have to wait and see what Foster comes up with for the opener, and then do more than the usual pencil work for each game thereafter.  There is no point in punching up the depth charts for this game.  It looks like Coach Foster is going to be moving people in and out depending on the particular situation, so starting and finishing might be two very different lists.

Here is the preseason based knock down of the defensive backfield.  (It will be updated at some point in mid season; probably after Purdue and before the ACC season starts.)

Defensive Backs

No.

Name

Exp

Pos

Height

Weight

Class

Notes

11

Kendall Fuller

2

CB

6' 0"

196

Jr.

Starting Right Cornerback

19

Chuck Clark

2

CB

6' 1"

205

Jr.

Starting Free Safety

31

Brandon Facyson

1

CB

6' 2"

196

r-So.

Starting Left Cornerback

12

Erikk Banks

-

CB

5' 10"

177

r-So.

Currently not on the charts

27

Curtis Williams

-

CB

5' 9"

167

r-So.

#3 Left Corner

3

Greg Stroman

1

CB

6' 1"

173

So.

Starting Nickel (Extra Rover)

17

DuWayne Johnson

-

CB

6' 2"

172

Fr.

#3 Right Corner

6

Mook Reynolds

-

CB

6' 1"

181

Fr.

Backup Nickel

2

Donovan Riley

3

FS

5' 11"

211

Sr.

Backup Left Corner

26

Desmond Frye

2

FS

6' 2"

200

r-Jr.

Starting Rover - Interesting shuffle

23

Der'Woun Greene

2

FS

5' 11"

186

r-Jr.

Backup Free Safety

29

Greg Jones

1

FS

6' 2"

205

r-Jr.

#3 Rover

24

Anthony Shegog

1

ROV

6' 3"

214

r-So.

Moved to Backup Whip

22

Terrell Edmunds

-

ROV

6' 1"

201

r-Fr.

Moves to Backup Cornerback?

36

Adonis Alexander

-

ROV

6' 3"

192

Fr.

Backup Rover - Got a peach interception in the Furman game.

What does the chart churn mean for the secondary?  I don't see anything particularly negative; there is very little size difference between each of the players; maybe a few inches and, with the exception of a couple of cornerbacks, 20 pounds.  Over all, we really do have one of the best defensive backfields in Division 1 FBS football (Who am I? - Well I was taught during my son and daughter's orientations... I'm a Hokie!), so the world can argue with me and I think that I'll still be right.

There are some questions that probably will be answered on Saturday night:

  • Will Facyson play up to his season debut?  Getting back into the flow after such a serious leg injury will challenge him at the next level. OSU was a write off, but Furman was just a down payment.  Purdue is a good test, since they are turnover prone.
  • Is Fuller feeling ok?  He's been struggling a bit.  The OSU game was a real test, but he didn't see much target work for Furman.  His one nice cover over pick was overturned by an in opportune flag.
  • Is this blended and re-positioned secondary going to be able to handle the critical attacks at the second level - both passing and running, that have gashed us over the last few seasons?
  • Can we cover the deep threats, especially on unanticipated play calls that were big causes for our losses against East Carolina and Georgia Tech?

This team still has challenges to overcome.  They have to cover the running game and underneath because our linebacker situation took a severe experience hit.  It looks like Foster and company are depending on the Defensive Backfield to fill in the hole in the zone.

This team has its work cut out for it.  #DBU had better play its best Suma Cum Shutdown game, because Purdue might be turnover prone.  Next destination, Indiana and Boilermaker territory.

Go Hokies!!!

Next up:  Game Day!

References:

http://www.gobblercountry.com/2015/8/30/9224723/virginia-tech-hokies-football-bud-foster-frank-beamer-gobbler-country

http://www.roanoke.com/sports/columns_and_blogs/blogs/andy_bitter_virginia_tech_football/examining-the-hokies-initial-august-depth-chart/article_272fb55e-3dcb-11e5-9412-d7bb96d79944.html

http://virginiatech.sportswar.com/free-content/2015/08/31/virginia-techs-depth-chart-released/